Martha Stewart: Home Confinement Worse Than Prison

ByABC News via logo

July 5, 2005 — -- Martha Stewart is out from behind bars, and she's a changed woman.

On "Good Morning America," journalist Matt Tyrnauer talked about his exclusive interview with Stewart for the August issue of Vanity Fair, which hits newsstands this week. Tyrnauer spent time with Stewart at her home over a period of several weeks, and found a much different person from the subject of the "Empire Martha" article he wrote for the magazine in fall 2001.

Stewart was found guilty of lying to investigators probing the ImClone insider-trading scandal in July 2004. Prosecutors said Stewart acted on an illegal tip when she sold ImClone stock on Dec. 27, 2001, netting $229,500 for the sale, a day before value of the stock plummeted.

On March 5, Stewart completed the first phase of her sentence, five months in a West Virginia federal prison. She is now serving the second phase of her sentence -- house arrest until early August -- at her estate in Bedford, N.Y.

Tyrnauer said Stewart hates her time in home confinement more than her time in prison. She mostly lives in her kitchen, since most of her home is unfurnished. She said she finds her electronic monitoring bracelet irritating and uncomfortable, and she's done Internet research on how to remove it.

Some say the Bedford home, which Stewart calls Cantitoe Farm, is a laboratory for developing new ideas. All the animals on the estate are black; horses that turn red in the sun are kept inside during the day. The walls of the house are all gray, and Amish builders are constructing the new barn.

"This is a world of total control," Tyrnauer said.

Stewart is allowed 48 hours a week away from her estate for work-related activities, grocery shopping and religious services.

That limits the amount of time she can put into her new reality show, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart," a spin-off of the original Donald Trump show which debuts Sept. 12.

It also limits her ability to direct Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, the $1.5 billion company she founded. Stewart had to resign as chairman and chief executive officer of the company in 2003, and in 2004 she resigned as chief creative officer and member of the board.

Nevertheless, during her stint in prison, her stock has more than doubled, and she is a billionaire once again.

In addition to "The Apprentice," Stewart is working with reality TV guru Mark Burnett on a one-hour, five-day-a-week daytime series called "Martha."

Tyrnauer added that if she had time, Stewart would be interested in campaigning for reform in the female prison system.

When asked if she was sorry about the ImClone scandal, Stewart told Tyrnauer, "You can't be sorry for something that -- let's see, how can I say this? I'm on appeal. You don't appeal if you think that you should be sorry. But I am sorry for the chaos, the damage, and the problems that the situation created."

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events